What have I got to give?

IOEE are delighted to welcome back our guest blogger, Clare Talbot-Jones. Clare and her husband, Richard, run Talbot Jones Risk Solutions, based in Felling, Gateshead. In this month’s blog, Clare shares her ideas on how small businesses can help support charities.

When we launched our business last year we had to reduce our charity giving in order to stay within our budget. To offset this financial reduction, we started to think about some more practical ways we could support charities. These are some of the ideas we came up with:

1. Volunteer your skills 

Your legal/digital/HR/PR consultancy services would be invaluable for a charity. Or perhaps you have more practical skills like joinery, mechanics or building? Local photographer Gavin Forster is currently donating his services to local homeless charity NEH, helping to raise their profile and connect with supporters. You might have time weekly or monthly, or perhaps your availability is limited to one-off occasions. The skills you’ve developed, practiced and honed over many years are priceless. Whatever the scenario, there’s a charity out there that values what you have to offer.

2. Train a volunteer

Can you spare some time to train up a charity worker so they are better equipped to meet the needs of their organisation? Sharing your social media, book keeping or marketing skills would be invaluable.

3. Volunteer your time 

Westgate Ark, a local cat rescue centre, is always looking for volunteers to come and spend time with their cats, to help keep them entertained or customised to human interaction. Local community centres may need help keeping their grounds tidy. Or could you help with taxiing people around, making deliveries, preparing food, sorting clothes…? The opportunities are endless, but a little bit of our time can go a long way for charities.

4. Volunteer your staff

Corporate Social Responsibility comes in many forms. Volunteering your staff to go clear out a charity’s allotment can be a really uniting and fun experience that helps draw your staff into the community and develop strong links. We do suggest that companies consider the skills required: Is it wise for your bunch of earnest office workers to pile into a youth club and paint the walls, or a better idea to pay a local, skilled decorator to do the job, paying his wages and ensuring the job is completed to a high quality.

One really valuable type of CSR is where employees are allowed a certain number of volunteer hours or days a year. That allows your volunteer football coach to take a day off in the summer to coach at a charity summer school, a scout leader to take an afternoon away so he can pack the van and drive the kids to camp, or a trustee to attend training or a board meeting. This allows our staff to be involved in meaningful, targeted and consistent giving, building deep, sustained relationships through dedicated service. This might give less opportunity for the hilarity and team-building shenanigans of the typical group CSR, but, wisely applied, can bring a sense of respect, appreciation and flexibility. This can bring a sense of well-being, contentment and community-mindedness among our staff that promotes well-being and is an asset to our community and to our business.

5. Become a trustee

Becoming a trustee of a charity should be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, giving you the opportunity to be involved in a community, or cause, which matters to you. It allows you to gain new experiences, training, development and skills, helping you to build on your professional experience. Becoming a trustee gives you opportunities to meet a diverse range of people, and work alongside others from all walks of life and it allows you to put your skills and interests to good use, and to make a real difference in your community.

Trustee vacancies nationwide can be found at http://trusteesweek.org/find/

6. Donate your products or services for prizes

Weekend breaks, meals out and jewellery are all prizes that would be quickly snapped up by most charities, in order to raise money in a raffle, auction or competition. Maybe your product or service is a little less glamorous. But there’s still a market for it somewhere! We know solicitors who have offered will-writing as a prize or support to complete a Lasting Power of Attorney application.

7. Attend events

There are a myriad of ways in which we can spend our free time. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find out about a whole range of events local to you- from gala dinners to obstacles runs, bungee jumps and pamper day, there really is something for everyone. Getting involved isn’t just fun for us- building our connections in the community, widening our experiences and broadening our awareness- it’s also great for the charity. It helps increase awareness, promotes their name and activities, raises money and encourages their team.

8. Promote events

Just because it’s not practical or possible for us to attend an event doesn’t mean we can’t offer a helping hand to promote it. Pressing ‘share’ on social media takes a second- and yet can increase the audience reach by hundreds. Inviting people, disseminating through our mailing list or writing a blog take a little bit more time, but can have a really stirring input.

9. Raise awareness

Getting conversations started, be it online or in real life, has a huge impact for charities. Keeping charity names or campaigns in our conversations keeps them in our minds. They help build trust, increase credibility and start the long journey of garnering life-long supporters and instigating change.

Random Acts of Kindness are great…but where we can make the most impact and build the strongest communities, is by consistent, proactive, responsive service and support. If there’s a particular charity that’s close to your heart, why not get in touch to volunteer your services or to find out what needs you may be able to meet. The Cranfield Trust match volunteers with business skills with Not-For-Profits who need support and directories like Charity Choice provide an online service that can help you find charities, filtered by objectives and region.

Charities welcome our financial donations, which help fund them and drive them forward. But, in addition to the financial contributions that we can afford, we have a whole lot more that we can offer, that is of great worth to the communities and causes that matter to us.

Who can you support today?

You can find out more about Talbot Jones Risk Solutions via their website and social media channels below:

Facebook           Twitter           LinkedIn